Taking the Land
(Part of this message comes from Todd MacIntyre who spoke at our men’s conference. I knew this passage was coming and asked his permission to borrow his thoughts.)
This story starts off with an editorial comment, “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things.” Let’s read 6:17-19, and verse 24. It’s pretty clear what God wanted to happen, but Achan saw the money and coveted it and stole it. And that’s how this story starts. What happens next is what it looks like when God’s anger burns. sThere’s nothing about this that makes sense naturally speaking. They just conquered Jericho in a week and now they can barely handle a little village. And that’s the point – their defeat was unnatural. It was supernatural.
Verses 6-10: Joshua’s Prayer:
What stands out is that the first words out of his mouth to God is to blame God. Now granted God did say he would be with them and Joshua expected a victory just like at Jericho. But when it didn’t come his first response was to blame God, the one who was and is always faithful. Now he was correct to come to God and credit God for the defeat but not for the reasons he had assumed. Going to God first is great – and if there were bonus points to give Joshua would have gotten a few. But how many times do we go to God and blame him for what’s going on? Not ever considering there just might be sin in the camp? Just sayin’… Let’s read God’s response.
Verses 10-15: The Lord:
This is one of my new favorite verses. “Get up! What are doing on the ground?” I love it. I love how God gives it right back to Joshua. “Why are you blaming me? I didn’t bail, you guys bailed.” Now I’m not sure why He doesn’t just name the offender right now. But He does give a path back into His blessing. The path is called “Consecrate.”
Consecrate: Consecrate! It’s the idea of dedicate or devote.
Dedicate yourselves to the Lord. God tells Joshua to command Israel, “Consecrate yourselves to the Lord.” And clearly in this moment God was going to give a very pointed and practical lesson about how serious He is about His people being consecrated.” Let’s read verse 16 through the end of the chapter. Does anyone doubt that God is serious about this idea of being consecrated? He supernaturally picks THE one guy out of millions of people who is not consecrated but hiding sin.
What Achan does in this story is what every human being does since Adam and Eve – when we sin we want to hide it or to pretend we didn’t do it. Achan stole a fancy robe, some silver worth about $1,000 and some gold worth about $25,000 and lies about it. He has all kinds of opportunities to confess after the battle, when Joshua and the elders tear their clothes and mourn, when Joshua makes the announcement in the evening, and in the morning when everyone assembles, but Achan still keeps his sin secret. It’s only when he is finally confronted by Joshua that he finally confesses, but even then there is no sense of remorse or begging for mercy. This guy was not going to ever confess. EVVVEEERRRR!
The drive to keep our sins secret is so deep in all of us. Don’t confess. Don’t humiliate yourself. Don’t admit you’re wrong. And Satan comes in and whispers into our ear, “Nobody knows about it. You can get away with it. It isn’t affecting anyone else, so its no big deal. No one is hurt. If it’s just your secret you’ll be it safe. You can’t tell anyone because you’ll get killed. You can’t share about this because you’ll be rejected or you’ll lose everything.” This drive to hide our sins is universal and so common God specifically brings the idea of keeping our sins a secret. So what is God saying to us this morning about secret sin?
1. God hates sin:
Who here is uncomfortable with the end of the story? Achan is stoned and then all of his family and even animals? Seriously? He coveted. He stole let’s say around $30,000. He lied a bunch. And look at God’s wrath because of it. This is how much he hates sin. It’s sobering. When you look at sin do you see it with God’s eyes. Don’t look at this world’s standards. Don’t listen to the lies and rationalizations, “It’s not that bad.” Do we see His absolute hatred of sin? Do we see how He has no problem stopping His plans for us. He will stop blessing us. He hates sin. Paul says, “Even the hint of sin.”
2. We are already caught before we are caught:
I don’t know if anyone saw the Trading Post recently but if remember back last year a guy came in during the day and stole a ladder and a lot of paint off our construction site. What he didn’t know was that he was already caught before he was caught. We got him on surveillance. His sentencing was a couple of weeks ago and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was caught before he was caught.
“Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” Declares the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24.
“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Psalm 90:8.
“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiates 12:14.
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3.
Folks, God sees us. He sees me and He sees you. He already knows. There’s no hiding. Our secret sins were never secret. He sees them right now.
3. Sin will always cost more than we want to pay:
We will pay for it. When David spent 9 months hiding his sin of murder and adultary, he wrote in Psalms 32 “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Over in Psalm 51 David begs God not to take Spirit of God away from him. Why does he beg for that because that’s what it felt like. God had gone silent. Folks, the personal price for hidden sin is immeasurable. God’s hand will be against us until we confess.
What is truly scary is that others might pay for our sin as well. When God gave the law to Moses he gave a kingdom promise. It’s repeated over and over again. Deuteronomy 5:9, Exodus 20; 34:7; and Numbers 14:18,“The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” In this passage with Achan, his hidden sin killed 36 men and his sons and his daughters and all he possessed. It is a lie from the pit of hell that says our hidden sin won’t affect anyone. No one is ever judged for another’s sin, the Bible is clear on this, but our family up to three to four generations can experience this curse from our sins. What parent here hasn’t grieved over seeing their own sin repeated in their kids? Make no mistake sin will always cost more than we want to pay.
I want to return back to this word “Consecrate” for a second. The bigger story is that God had no qualms about shutting down His plans to use Israel. This whole conquest of the Promised Land was on hold because of unconfessed sin. He wanted His people to never forget how critical this call to be consecrated was. In this story he whittled down the entire nation to one man who disregarded the call and hid his sin.
Confession to God:
The only way God says to deal with sin is to confess it. Bring out into the open. Say aloud, “I did it. I’m guilty. I’ve got no excuse. I sinned.” That is the only way to do it. We make this confession to God and to others. Now you may be thinking, “But how do I confess to God after what happened to Achan?”
I want us to imagine that scene of Achan and his family being stoned? Do you have it? Now imagine Christ pulling Achan out and standing in His place. That’s the scene of the Father’s wrath being poured out on Jesus for us on the cross. Can you see it? It’s the only way Christ would have us see this story end today. This call to consecrate ourselves is rooted in the cross. Jesus makes consecration possible. Over and over the nation of Israel proved this call to consecration was impossible. Christ took the wrath we deserved on himself. We might suffer consequences of our sin, but Christ took that wrath on Himself and opened the path for us to be fully devoted to Him.
Confessing our sins to Christ brings forgiveness:
If we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive us. We don’t have to beg Him for forgiveness or even ask Him to forgive us. He says we are forgiven if we confess to him. Some of you need to be forgiven by God. You’re in chains to guilt and shame and if you confess God will forgive you. He will. You’ll be free of it. But not only that, did Satan ever tell you there is blessing in confession? Remember all those passages in the law about the curse of someone’s sin going three to four generations out. In every single one of those passages it also says, “BUT God shows mercy unto thousands of generations who love Me and keep My commandments.” Compare the two: sin and hide it gets three to four generations of a curse. But obey – consecration, including confession, and 1,000 generations are blessed. Can you see God’s heart? Confession brings blessing. Hear me on this. Confession is not the end of our life but the point in which we really start to live.
Confession to Others:
Confession doesn’t stop just with God though. God calls us to confess to those we’ve sinned against. He also calls us to confess our sins to each other and he says it will bring healing. One of the reasons we confess to each other is we can be so deceived about our own sin. We have a process of confession we lead people through at Freshwater called the Steps To Freedom. I’ve talked to quite a few people who have done this on their own only to go though it with myself or someone else and they consistently remark about how surprised they were at how much more came out when they did it with others. Some of it was because it was areas they were blind and other times it was because they weren’t being honest with themselves. A significant reason God calls us to confess to each other is for healing. James 5 talks about this. Healing comes when we confess to each other.
So here we get to the heart of the matter. If you have hidden sin, at some level, which only God knows, it is impacting your life, your family and friends, and Freshwater. Will you hear God’s heart to consecrate yourself? Consecrate yourself to the Lord and confess what He is calling you to confess. Are there any men and women here today who are tired of seeing generation after generation cursed by secret sins. Anyone ready to take the stand and say, “It stops here. It stops now. No more secret sin. No more destruction and devastation. My house. My family. My marriage. Will be consecrated.” Anyone tired of paying more than you ever imagined for it? Anyone tired of the curse?
This morning we are not going to have a response for people to come forward. For a couple of reasons. First, you may come forward out of both that desire to consecrate yourself and also out of emotions and end up confessing to someone you don’t know and be so ashamed you never come back. Or you completely avoid them. We want this confession to not be about the emotion of the moment but a willful and measured decision.
Also, you need to confess your sin to someone who is a mature Christian, do not confess to someone who isn’t mature. First, a mature Christian, at least the way we understand it at Freshwater, will be someone who is safe and you will walk away feeling loved and cared for. A mature Christian will also give you the truth and not soft-pedal it but also give you grace, love, and acceptance.
What you can do this morning is finally confess to God. Admit you’re hiding sin and call it sin. And this morning receive His forgiveness. What you can also do this morning is ask God to give you the name of the person you need to talk to. He’ll do it. Be ready for it.
Prayer & Fasting:
I have one final thought as we close. On Thursday we start our 3-day Prayer and Fasting. As a church family we’re about to embark on a whole new season of ministry. I can’t explain it any other way but to say, “I hear God calling us to consecrate ourselves. Devote ourselves to Him. If there is hidden sin we need to confess it.” Next week we’re going to talk look at what God does when His people consecrate themselves. Over these three days would you pray that we at Freshwater would consecrate ourselves? Would you pray that God would lead us to confess our sins, forgiveness, and purify us? Would you pray that He would pour out His power and presence on us for this new season of ministry?